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HISTORIC BLACK VEGAS | The story of Lubertha Johnson

August 1, 2021 by  
Filed under Feature

Claytee D. White

The story of Lubertha Johnson


In 1943 Lubertha Johnson migrated to Las Vegas to assume a position as the Recreational Director of Carver Park, a WWII housing complex for Black workers at Basic Magnesium Incorporated (BMI). Paul R. Williams, the “architect to the stars,” designed the units and wanted something above average for his fellow African-American workers. BMI employed Blacks from small towns in the South like Fordyce, Arkansas, Tallulah, Louisiana, and hamlets in Mississippi. Lubertha Johnson helped to smooth the transition and added a bit of joy and fun since the surrounding area was undeveloped. Today that area is the City of Henderson. Unfortunately, Carver Park has since been demolished.

As the Recreational Director, Johnson also intervened in local activism. The space she programmed was also for meetings — so she started the Tenant Council at Carver Park, a group that organized discussion sessions around various topics, especially racial discrimination at the plant. Her primary duties allowed her to lead the recreation agenda, start a nursery school, and later add a preschool.

When the war ended, Johnson left Carver Park and purchased property in Paradise Valley, the unincorporated area near today’s McCarran Airport. At that time, Blacks lived in downtown Las Vegas, just across the tracks from the hub of the business corridor. Johnson’s home in Paradise Valley proved to be a place that allowed African-Americans a refuge for cookouts, holiday gatherings, and organizational meetings. Simultaneously,

Lubertha Johnson

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